With two strong contenders—Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray—standing in the way of the World No. 1, some are already talking about how weakened Federer's chances are. But, should it matter to the Swiss maestro?
This is not the first time that Federer has had to wade his way through younger opponents. Leave aside players like Stepanek, Haas, Hewitt and Roddick because most other players are younger and perhaps, stronger.
A player cannot and should not enter the fray fretting over who's standing on the other side of battlefield. Federer, for that matter, knows quite well how to take all these uncertainties in his stride. He will take it match by match—better still, game by game. It will all come from the arid wisdom he has amassed through a surfeit of experiences—both good and bad—over his long and illustrious career.
A player of such genius would simply know draws are certainly not the sole fulcrum that will help him hold out till the end. If anything, a tough draw will force him to remain focused and churn out a free-flowing rhythm needed for the last few rounds.
Fed vs. Murray in the semis
This match is a possibility for sure, provided there are no great upsets. If both players sail through to the semis without facing a scare like Federer did against Julien Benneteau recently in Wimbledon, then this would be the match of the tournament.
There are two reasons: First, Murray is currently perching on a different plane. He is imbued with never-before confidence of beating top players after his heroic Wimbledon fight and winning the Olympic gold later on. He is much closer to winning a Slam than ever before. But still, it's anything but a walk in the park.
To say that Murray would fare better at Flushing Meadows because it exerts much less pressure on him unlike Wimbledon would be a bit naive. That's mainly because Murray knows the whole world is already looking at him differently. He knows what is expected of him now. The Olympic gold medal has already whipped up tons of hope and hype. A tinderbox of expectations is set to explode in New York, too—with or without British fans cheering him on.
It will be interesting to see if Murray can repeat his Olympic performance at Flushing Meadows which always makes Federer feel he is back in his hometown.
Secondly, Federer recently had an emphatic win at Cincy against none other than Djokovic, and Murray exited the tournament early. If we ignore Murray's loss to Jeremy Chardy as just another bad day at work—or perhaps, an excuse to rest well before the US Open, then it makes no sense to discuss it any further.
However, that doesn't take away how easily Federer won his fifth trophy at Cincinnati without dropping his serve. It clearly shows how easily he put aside his defeat against Murray at the Olympics and how well prepared he was for the upcoming challenge.
He would have won Cincy even if he had met Murray on the way. That would have certainly changed many equations. We would have now been talking about Murray's reduced chances of winning his first Slam than the other way round.
Federer vs. Djokovic
When it comes to great champions like these two players, what propels them is their ability to move on despite humiliating losses. While Federer would rate his performance against Novak at the Cincy finals and also the Wimbledon semis as two of his best matches and try to carry the momentum forward, Djokovic knows how to put the episode behind him and move on.
That said, Federer looks much fresher than Djokovic and even Murray for that matter. He seems to be physically fit enough to go from a tough semi to a tougher final. For this to happen, he will make sure to keep his early-round matches short.
With all these trials, if Federer does manage to lay his hands on his 18th Slam, it will only add to his legend. A tougher draw will make it that much more memorable. And that's what he will look forward to.
So, relax you Federer fans. Sit back and enjoy the US Open.
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